That time of year. For the 20th? 30th? time I'm giving up sugar for Lent. Day 4 and counting, but I have opened the rule over the last few years of Sundays off, which might sound like a cop out but if you set the boundaries at the start it's not really; but I'm gonna try and not overindulge (yea).
Anyway, my friend who has a 6 year old was saying they still encourage kids in school to observe Lent, which I think is great. There's so many things that make Lent great for me. I'll start by boring you with the usual - the romance of an ancient tradition of our culture and of an ancient romantic church. The sense of community knowing so many others share your aspirations for discipline. For this part, I love the fact that Lent has transcended its Catholic origins so that it is socially acceptable to the post-religious generation.
On the other side I like the achievement and self-pride of self-discipline, knowing that you have the will to control your desires. For me I find it much easier to give up something at Lent than at any other time, because it's a set period, because of the tradition.
Then there's the freedom, albeit short-lived, from my addictions. Years ago I gave up tea, went cold turkey from 10 mugs a day to none and by the end I couldn't stand the smell of it. That's the only permanent give-up I've done. With the sugar, it's a different story, I eat more shite than a school trip, and can't say no to the sugar high. So the temporary release from having all that sweetness in my system is nice (one of those good sides to the downside of no sugar). I especially notice it if eating chocolate towards the end of Lent, how much an impact on your system the processed sugar has.
Then there's the added gratification from small and secret fixes of sweetness. I remember one time I got a coffee during Lent and I got so much illicit pleasure from the sugar in the small piece of chocolate flakey stuff on the top. I think it was the same last night with the sweet and sour dip accompanying the wedges in the pub.
Many a time I had it in my head to moderate my sugar intake post Easter Sunday, at a time when my system is most used to not having it, but I know well by now that it never happens. I do feel sick eating chocolate around Easter, but it lasts about 2 days before I'm back to normal levels of consumption, which is why I value having the small opportunity for escape.
So in fairness, what other practice gives gratification on so many levels. Does this make me a confirmed masochist? No I'm far too lazy.